On to Cleveland!
Getting above .500, much less sticking to it, seems an impossible task in the early going. This one was a bloodbath, right from the jump, and worse, with a bullpen game already penciled for Wednesday, Lucas Giolito couldn’t even give the White Sox two innings today. We’re back to praying for a snowout(s) in Cleveland this week to save the staff.
But hey, entering the game the White Sox had the best starting pitching in the AL. (After the game, they won’t!)
What am I going to say about Lucas Giolito today other than he was awful. His changeup was murdered to the extent there was immediate speculation of pitch-tipping or sign-stealing. But Giolito was also getting very little movement/much less spin on the pitch this outing, so maybe the Red Sox weren’t given their Apple watches back, after all.
Lucas lasted just an inning-plus, with eight hits, eight earned, two homers, two walks and zero Ks, for a minus-10 game score. If -10 seems a pretty difficult accomplishment, it is (he came in averaging a 66 this season): The minus-10 is by far the worst game of Giolito’s career, which has seen only two negative scores before (a -3 and -4, in 2018).
Giolito gave up “just” three hard-hit balls, but a whole bunch sure were close to hard-hit.
Here’s the breakdown of Giolito’s 54-pitch outing:
4-seam fastball: 54% | 4 called strikes + 3 whiffs (24%) | 93.0 mph avg.
Changeup: 28% | 3 called strikes + 1 whiff (13%) | 81.1 mph avg.
Slider: 19% | 1 called strike + 1 whiff (40%) | 85.7 mph avg.
Notable: Clearly there was something wrong with Giolito’s changeup today. Whereas the spin on his fastball and slider were slightly up, his changeup spin was down an astounding -117 rpm.
Nathan Eovaldi was solid today, able to coast on a big early lead, and still unleashing some thick gas. His mix of pitches was terrific, and he managed to last 6 1⁄3 innings, giving up nine hits, four earned, and 10 Ks against no walks, for a game score of 58.
Here’s a breakdown of Eovaldi’s 100-pitch win:
4-seam fastball: 41% | 9 called strikes + 6 whiffs (37%) | 93.4 mph avg.
Curveball: 21% | 5 called strikes + 3 whiffs (38%) | 78.4 mph avg.
Slider: 13% | 3 called strikes + 4 whiffs (54%) | 92.4 mph avg.
Cutter: 13% | 1 called strike + 5 whiffs (46%) | 90 mph avg.
Splitter: 12% | 5 called strikes + 1 whiffs (50%) | 84.9 mph avg.
Eovaldi gave up six hard hits among his 100 tosses.
Fastest pitch: Fastest pitch, are you kidding? Eovaldi threw the 29 fastest pitches of this game, ranging from a high of 100.3 mph (on a sixth-inning ball to Yermín Mercedes) to 97.2 mph (a pitch to Abreu in the sixth that José fouled off).
Most swing-and-misses: Eovaldi also led all pitches with 19 whiffs, translating to a 19% whiff rate. Zack Burdi had 15 (30.6%), while Giolito had five (9.3%).
In a blowout like this, pressure is mild, and comes early. Thus it was the 12th batter of the game, and sixth Lucas Giolito faced, who came through under pressure. Yes, with an RBI single to right in the bottom of the first to put Boston up, 3-1, Marwin González succeeded under mild 1.58 LI pressure, tops in the ballgame. The White Sox’s top pressure? Adam Eaton, whiffing against Nathan Eovaldi under 1.40 LI pressure on the second at-bat of the game.
No, this is not a gag category, someone faced a little bit of pressure today. And that someone was Lucas Giolito, with 0.89 pLI for his one-plus innings and 54 pitches. For that, Giolito was rewarded with a hard-to-fathom -.469 WPA on the day.
Another ludicrously low reading here, given the blowout, as it was Kiké Hernández’s .097 WPA home run as the first Boston batter of the game — a screaming homer to left — that took the honors.
Luis Robert’s double in the first to score Tim Anderson was the second-biggest play of the game, at .092 WPA.
J.D. Martinez amassed the most value today, clocking in with .114 WPA on the strength of a 3-for-5, two-RBI, HR, two-run, one-K day. Boston took the win, place and show today, as Luis Robert, fourth in the game but first among White Sox and in your hearts, had a .067 WPA game (1-for-4, RBI double, K)
Luckiest hit: Adam Eaton’s oppo double into the left-field corner was hit smartly (91.1 mph) but not played well by left fielder Franchy Cordero, who turned a .020 xBA hit into an RBI for Spanky. Nice D, Franchy!
Toughest out: Jake Lamb was the bad-luck winner today, lining a grounder into the shift to end the sixth inning. The screamer not only had a .960 xBA, it was the most-likely hit besides the three home runs in the game!
Hardest hit: Call this one unlucky, too: Rafael Devers smoked a 111.6 mph grounder to Nick Madrigal to lead off the fourth, but it was just a loud out (and .510 xBA contact).
Weakest contact: Aside from two Boston bunts, the softest play today came from Hunter Renfroe, who checked a ground out to third base in the first inning, hit at just 44.7 mph. Naturally, on a day like today, the spaghetti-batted ball still drove in a run.
Longest hit: Alex Verdugo homered 417 feet to right-center off of Zack Burdi in the third, putting Boston up, 9-2.
Magic Number: 6
The leadoff home run to Kiké Hernández from Lucas Giolito was one thing. But the next six (and seven of the next eight) Red Sox singled, putting this early game to bed before the coffee pot was even boiling. Worse, the first four of Boston’s hits in the first inning (Hernández’s homer, the first three singles) came with two strikes.
LI measures pressure per play
pLI measures total pressure faced in game
Whiff a swing-and-miss
WPA win probability added measures contributions to the win
xBA expected batting average
South Side Sox Reader Stats
It was a 319-comment ballgame, with KP and Ano fighting it out:
baines03 earns most rec’d (four), with this prediction, intentional or no, of Danny Mendick’s 61.4 mph beaning of Marwin González: